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LaFond House Hard to La Find

SEPTEMBER 15, 2014

I very luckily (but not so easily) stumbled upon a Frank Lloyd Wright house in St. Joseph, Minnesota. I was staying in St. Cloud looking for a way to pass a bit of the afternoon and found that I was only 12 miles from the Dr. Edward and Laura Jane LaFond House on Kraemer Lake at 29710 Kipper Road. Dr. LaFond and his wife lived in the house for forty one years until his death in 2011.

LaFond House

I set and followed the GPS down a dead end road that ended at the drive to the home. I stopped well above the house where I felt like the road ended and the drive began. I was rather disappointed that I couldn’t see the place better. It was unusual for a Wright, a late piece of his work and I wanted a closer look.

I drove back up the road thinking I might be able to have a nice view through my camera lens from another vantage point on the lake. Just a bit down the road, I saw a trail head and parked. I had a plan. I could hike to the lake and shoot from the angle I imagined. It is important to note that I have a very poor sense of direction and it didn’t not occur to me at this point that the GPS could help. I also never fail to believe that I can do something even though I know I am terrible at it—navigating and being a woodsman both fall into this category. I hiked through the woods in my white pants and patent leather ballet flats, ill-prepared for this type of adventure. Thankfully, being a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture rarely takes me into the woods on short notice because I am not the sort of person who keeps a can of Off in the car.

Hiking Kraemer Lake Area

sap lines Kraemer Lake

The trails were marked so I took the paths pointing at water. I think I hiked the trails in their entirety, but I never saw the lake. I did see a lot of very large mosquitoes and some sap lines. It wasn’t long before I became frustrated and decided the trails were not the place to be if I was going to get a good look at this Wright, and thought it would be brilliant to leave the trail to find the lake. I miraculously managed to find my way back to the trail each time without marking my path. This part of the plan was an utter failure. Still no lake, I was just very dirty and well-exercised, neither of which is necessarily a bad thing. By the time I returned to my car I was very happy to see the outhouse that I hadn’t previously noticed.

LaFond House Kraemer Lake

I had an entire afternoon and no schedule, so I started driving in the direction of what I believed was the lake, continuing my silly obsession with seeing the front side of the house. I failed again and think I drifted fairly far off course. I gave up and decided to go in to St. Joseph for a bite to eat. I set the GPS, and as I followed its directions, it led me past a sign pointing to Kraemer Lake, a sign I had not previously seen . I locked up the brakes, did my best three point turn and took the road in the direction of Kraemer Lake. It put me squarely across the lake from the LaFond House a couple of hours after I had out. I was able to take some photos of the front of the house from what appeared to be public property. Ahhhh.

If you would like to do this the easy way, refer below and put 29200 Kraemer Lake Road into your GPS.  Always remember to be courteous and respectful of the neighborhoods and private property!

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